Children's mobility, orientation and guiding

Mobility is the ability to move around. Orientation is about knowing where you are and where you are going.

Young boy being guided alongSome children who are multi-sensory impaired will have enough useful sight to move unaided, at least in familiar environments. Many others will need the environment adapted for their needs.

Many will need to be guided by another person, especially when outdoors or in unfamiliar surroundings.

Children who use wheelchairs

Children who use wheelchairs also have mobility needs relating specifically to their deafblindness. Being pushed briskly in a wheelchair, without any information about where you are going or which way the chair will turn next, is terrifying.

There are widely-used ways of giving information, for example:

  • Tell children where they are going before they set out in a way they can understand. Object cues (such as an armband for swimming) are useful because the child can keep referring to them throughout the journey
  • Place a hand on the child's shoulder before turning a corner - right shoulder for turning right, left shoulder for turning left
  • Slow down before changes in floor texture, such as moving onto a doormat
  • Help children to explore routes they use regularly - landmarks, floor and wall surfaces, out of their wheelchair if at all possible

Guiding and teaching independent mobility

There are specific techniques used when guiding children or adults with little or no sight when walking. Being badly guided is likely to be frightening and lead to painful collisions with doors and walls.

There are also specific techniques used in teaching independent mobility skills to children who may need to use a long cane or similar aid. Qualified teachers of children who are multi-sensory impaired or visually impaired will be able to advise or to get further help from a mobility specialist.

Related information

Groups for children and young people


Children's assessments

First published: Monday 28 May 2012
Updated: Monday 24 February 2014